This autumn the people across Europe take pride and joy in remembering the fall of the Berlin Wall and the subsequent symbolic start of a democratization process in the then communist countries. Practically all new European democracies are publishing economic-political analyses on what progress they have made over this time, what they have done right and what wrong. They are trying to evaluate the period of a quarter of the century, which is of importance for the sake of the future rather than the past.
And what has Slovenia achieved over this time? A standard answer would probably argue that, as a country, it has gained recognition in the international community: it became a member of the most important international organizations, it forms part of the EU and NATO, it introduced euro as its official currency and joined the Schengen Area. We have attained a series of goals we took as our own even before gaining independence.
However, this is a formalist answer which says nothing about substantive progress made in various fields of social life. Namely, as soon as attained, the above mentioned objectives should have become an instrument used to forge alliances and to promote our fundamental interests - in other words, a form we would fill in with the content based on our values. The right question is therefore what this content is like and what it should be like.
The members of the Association for European Slovenia assess that, unfortunately, we have no clear answer to this question and that, as a society, we are not even trying to find it. Those who – the same as we do – call for a substantive discussion about common problems, find it hard to encounter a relevant interlocutor with whom they might engage in a rational and constructive polemic. The public discourse is usually done in a way that those with whom the key indirect or direct public opinion shapers do not agree are either deliberately ignored or publicly disqualified.
Instead of, once and for all, leaving behind the former communist party pattern which in some cases tolerated internal differentiation rather than conceptual alternatives, we have actually expanded it to include the society as a whole. A serious opponent is thus recognized neither as a legitimate mastermind nor as a political or interest player but merely as an outside threat moving beyond the acceptable discourse and tearing down the context we are used to and wish to further recreate.
Fatal political, economic and social challenges in general are often not discussed ad rem or on the basis of arguments. Consequently, our decisions are irrational and we politically regress. Instead of coalitions »FOR«, we forge coalitions »AGAINST«. Instead of building, we destroy.
Our economy and development are stagnating. We spend more than we make. We live at the expense of the non-existing generations. Instead of creating conditions for solidarity between the rich and the poor, we maintain a forced solidarity between the poor and the privileged. We are not building a just society, but sustaining an unfair one.
We have never seriously and openly faced our past. We have not undone injustices or put up gravestones for those killed after World War II. On the basis of »expert arguments« we have closed the archives, thus disabling access to historical facts which are crucial for a normal and carefree future. We have placed interests of influential groups above the truth and justice, and we insist on it.
Instead of choosing the best candidates when it comes to our participation in international organizations, decision-making elites each time hand-pick the most »deserving« one; unfortunately, not to further our prosperity, but to »stop Janez Janša's policy«. In most cases Slovenia thus makes a fool of itself in the international community and causes hard-to-fix political and economic damage. And in what way do we discuss this?
We are constantly talking about the rule of law, while all comparative indicators point to distinct negative trends. The society is characterized by lack of interest in whether or not individual solutions are actually consistent with law. Individual general or concrete legal acts are often drawn up in the light of indirect benefits or damage enjoyed or sustained by the most influential interest groups. Although most legal experts are silent, many of them warn of dangers. However, the shots are called by those who, through distinctively voluntaristic perception of legal institutes, perpetuate the fallacious patterns as normal and correct.
In such circumstances public employees can decorate themselves with totalitarian symbols in a carefree spirit. In a complete absence of the impression of impartiality, the Supreme Court can easily afford to take months to decide on extraordinary judicial review in the so called Patria case, thus abusing the trust conferred upon it by the Constitutional Court when rejecting the constitutional appeal in the same case. Instead of dealing with reforms that could take as back to the path of economic growth, the National Assembly has for months tried to find a way to revoke or, at least, freeze Janša's deputy's mandate, despite having no legal grounds. One of the criteria set by the new Government for a person to be still suitable to hold a senior public position is obviously also a demand for a complete non-cooperation with persons who take part in public rallies, whose main point is legitimate criticism of the current implementation of human rights as well as of principles of a democracy and rule of law in Slovenia.
It seems that in Slovenia the system of checks and balances has failed, and that the principle of unity of authority is undergoing tactical restoration when ensuring the moral-political suitability as a pre-condition for public and professional engagement. Consequently, it comes as no surprise that the Speaker of the National Assembly Dr. Brglez, who openly discusses the international reputation of the former Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, sympathizes with the idea of a socialist social revolution and places the after-war killings in the context of natural law, in his recent letter addressed to the Association for European Slovenia is primarily preoccupied with who is the author of the critical public question addressed to him a few days ago.
It is thus completely clear why on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall here in Slovenia we are unable to deal with either a serious analysis of the progress made thus far or future challenges. Instead of being proud of our accomplishments and feeling enthusiastic about our future, we are under the impression that the course of time has reversed and that the process of democratization and development is running backwards. An apparently successful Slovenian story has turned into an example of a non-functional society; having no goals or compass, we are unable to move. We are marking time, which, considering the obvious progress made by most other former Central European communist countries, means that we are actually regressing. Instead of becoming a part of the solution, we remain a part of the problem. This will be the case until we start to pave the way for a European rather than Balkan Slovenia.
Association for European Slovenia, Ljubljana, 17 October 2014